NEW DELHI: At a time when the Centre has been facing flak from various quarters on the poor job situation, government data suggest that employment generation schemes have not done well in the past year.The performance of major schemes like the Prime Minister’s Employment Generation Programme (PMEGP), Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme (MGNREGS), Deen Dayal Upadhyaya Grameen Kaushalya Yojana (DDU-GKY) and Deendayal Antodaya Yojana-National Urban Livelihoods Mission (DAY-NULM) during 2017-18 have not been as satisfactory as the year before.
MGNREGS is one of the government’s key schemes considering the huge unskilled rural workforce in the country. The Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (MGNREGA), 2005, provides for enhancement of livelihood security of households in rural areas by giving at least 100 days of guaranteed wage employment in every financial year to every household whose adult members volunteer to do unskilled manual work. However, the performance under the scheme has not improved much in last few years.
While 255.83 crore person days were created in 2016-17, it slipped to 206.71 crore person days in 2017-18 (till March 1, 2018).Agriculture expert Devinder Sharma claimed the government had hardly any focus on the rural and agriculture sector. Social security did not fit into the government’s economic growth model, he claimed. “MGNREGS is like a social obligation for the government,” Sharma added.
However, government officials listed multiple reasons for this. One said that the demand for work itself was influenced by various factors such as rainfall pattern, availability of alternative and remunerative employment opportunities outside MGNREGA and prevailing unskilled wage rates.In the first phase, MGNREGA was implemented in 200 most backward districts from February 2, 2006.
It was extended to an additional 113 districts from April 1, 2007, and to 17 more on May 15, 2007. The remaining districts were included under the Act from April 1, 2008. The Act now covers all rural districts in the country. The PMEGP scheme under which the banks provide loans at subsidised rates to set up small and medium enterprises, also has performed badly in 2017-18. While the estimated employment generated under this scheme in 2016-17 was 4.08 lakh, it fell to 2.31 lakh in 2017-18 (tillJanuary 22, 2018).